157 million. That’s the number of active video gamers in the United States in 2012. A Pew study in 2015 found that an entire half of the American population play video games. Don’t assume it’s just boys and young men playing on consoles, computers, and phones. The average player is 35 years old and has been gaming for 13 years. Forty-eight percent of them are women.
The video game industry has been booming for decades and shows zero signs of slowing down. The question is, how can your business gain an advantage in the workplace by integrating gaming elements into the daily grind?
At work, gamification can be used to transform the completion of mundane tasks and assignments into an environment that encourages individual employees to work as a team and achieve organizational goals. Gamifying has the added benefits of crafting long-term engagement, establishing employee loyalty, and solidifying co-worker relationships.
Let’s take a look at how specific gaming elements can be applied in a business environment to achieve your company’s short-term goals and long-term objectives.
Goals are where you have the ability to set short and long-term expectations for your employees, based on specific job role. Here are some of the benefits of goals within gamification:
- Indicates progress: a progress bar indicates how close an employee is to complete a goal, and if they’re on track to complete it in time.
- Customizable: goals can be simple or complex. It’s entirely up to your organizational needs.
- Time-based: Goals are unique because they are typically time-based. They hold employees accountable to completing their tasks in a timely manner, while providing them with some motivation when they meet goals.
In fact, you can use the entire “goals” process as a learning experience. If you see that an employee is struggling to meet certain goals, that presents an excellent opportunity to provide them with some more coaching.
A leaderboard gives employees an overview of how they are contributing to their team, and how their team is contributing to the overall organization. Leaderboards can:
- Rank individuals within a team based on specific metrics
- Rank teams within your entire organization
- Create hierarchies so your employees can see how they are comparing across departments and in the organization as a whole
Leaderboards are configurable based on your organizational goals. Ultimately, if you have data, it can be tracked through gamification. But choosing the right data for your needs is where much of the magic comes from.
Although similar to goals, achievements are designed to show employees how they are progressing in their job role, and to give managers insight into the unique skills and abilities of their team members. With achievements, you can:
- Recognize important milestones, such as a work anniversary
- Start with small achievements, work toward something bigger
- Once you gain an achievement, it’s like you “level up” (in gamer language). It’s more permanent than a goal.
- Gives managers an opportunity to recognize outstanding performance, as well as identify learning opportunities.
Collaboration and Competition
Gamification allows you to create a team environment and accomplish larger, more complex tasks. Some friendly competition can encourage knowledge sharing within teams and persuade everyone to contribute to an end goal.
To foster collaboration and friendly competition, you can:
- Utilize a point system, where team members accumulate points in order to get prizes (requires you to invest in the prizes, which is an added expense and may not be as sustainable)
- Show how awesome your team members are doing (by encouraging competition between teams)
- Show who is trending to win
By applying the same science and psychology of gaming into the workplace, motivating your employees to work both individually and as a team in achieving company objectives becomes easier, more fun, spurs productivity, and raises performance.